Sixth Avenue

Laurie Oler poses for a portrait at her store, Sixth Street Antiques, in Belton on Saturday.  

BELTON — Sixth Avenue is ripe for redevelopment.

Two projects — the rezoning of a 4.4 acre-tract to a retail district and the eventual transformation of First Baptist Church’s 10-acre campus into an extension of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor — are set to begin that undertaking.

“There are a lot of moving parts in this area along Sixth,” City Manager Sam Listi said, adding the sale of that 4.4-acre property is set to be finalized soon.

As private entities work through their own plans, the city of Belton is at the start of its project to beautify Sixth Avenue.

The City Council — in a 4-0 decision on Tuesday — approved a $77,900 contract with Temple-based KPA Engineers to study what it would take to turn Sixth Avenue — a Texas Department of Transportation-maintained road — into gateway entrance that mirrors Central Avenue. Councilmen Guy O’Banion, Dan Kirkley and David K. Leigh were absent.

“The intent is to make it very similar to this,” Public Works Director Angellia Points said, showing a photo of Central Avenue with its sidewalks, landscaping, antique lighting fixtures and underground utilities. “The intent of the project is to beautify, enhance it into a gateway into Belton.”

The contract with KPA will include plans for right-of-way and easement acquisition, moving utilities underground, and renderings of a rehabilitated Sixth Avenue. Points added the engineering firm will provide cost estimates for each piece of the project, such as utility relocation and the construction of new sidewalks.

“To start us off, we know we have limited right of way from TxDOT. We also know we have a lot of utilities above ground, and we have some utilities underground that need to be replaced,” she said. “The biggest part of it will be the survey — really seeing what right of way do we have and what easements do we have.”

The Sixth Avenue project has been under consideration by the Council since early 2018. It stalled out after the City Council could not decide the scope of the proposal, and decided to table a similar contract in January 2018. The city estimated at the time the project could cost between $3 million and $5 million.

Mayor pro tem Wayne Carpenter asked for a timeline for how long it will take KPA to complete this survey. She said it could take up to six months.

Business owners along Sixth Avenue have been supportive of the project in the past.

“I think it’s a main entrance into Belton anyway so to make the street more eye appealing I think would be wonderful,” Sixth Street Antiques owner Laurie Oler previously told the Telegram.

Louis Sims — the owner of NAPA Auto Parts, 100 E. Sixth Ave. — agreed.

“I think Sixth Avenue tends to be on the ugly side mainly because of the fact it has overhead utilities that are very old,” he said last year.